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Canadians want climate change to top G8/G20 agenda

Canadians think global warming is the most important issue to be addressed at the upcoming G8 and G20 summits, according to a new poll, even though Canadian politicians are keeping climate change off the main agenda.

"This is important, because Canadians recognize that Copenhagen was a bit of a gong show," said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver. "They're saying 'we want to have some international agreement on this issue, and we don't believe Canada should do it alone.' They recognize that there is no agreement already in place, so let's put it on the table."

According to the poll by Nanos Research, Canadians put global warming ahead of other summit agenda items like freedom, democracy and human rights, nuclear security and economic recovery.

But Dimitri Soudas, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, last month told the Canadian Press that climate change discussions will only happen on the "margins" of the G20 summit. "The primary focus of the G20, as per its mandate, is to discuss the economy and that is the government's number one priority."

The Nanos poll also asked Canadians to rate the country's current standings on each of the agenda items. Democracy and human rights were rated highest, while global warming received the lowest comparative score.

The G8 summit will be held in Huntsville, Ontario from June 25 to 27, with the G20 summit immediately following in Toronto.

Robyn Smith is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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